This study talks about shaping the foundations of racial independence through social revolution using such works as “Our New Citizens, the Blacks: The Politics of Freedom, 1810-1890”, “Race War and nation in Caribbean Gran Colombia, Cartagena, 1810-1832”, “Revolution in the Rio de la Plata”…
This essay discusses that for hundreds of years, blacks and other minority races were considered as little more than speaking animals to the elite aristocracy, unable to be in the ranks of polite or civilized society, not allowed to seek education, and certainly not allowed to hold important or political offices. The racial inequality in this standardized caste system is such that it hinders social evolution as a whole by accepting as custom that people of a different skin color hold less value than those of white descent. With that said, a close look will be taken into the social revolution that sparked racial equality during the War of Independence between 1808 and 1824 in Spanish America to illustrate the role of minorities and the significant power they attained by refusing to further be defined by the color of their skin. There are at least three leading arguments proposed by George Reid Andrew, John Lynch, and Marixa Lasso that expound upon how the minority races took strides in shaping the revolutionary efforts for racial equality by abolishing the caste system as well as illustrating how the elite reacted to the activism and consequent construction of the newly defined nation-states. To begin with, George Reid Andrew’s Afro-Latin America entitled “Our New Citizens, the Blacks: The Politics of Freedom, 1810-1890,” notes that “at the same time that the slaves were using the openings created by the independence wars to pursue freedom and emancipation, free blacks and mulattoes were capitalizing on wartime conditions to strike down the colonial racial laws.” 1.” Andrew makes an important distinction in his discourse of the minority groups as he defines the separation also felt by the slaves and the free blacks and mulattoes in that even in a minority situation where camaraderie would have ensured political success, still the priorities differed. Even though they shared an ethnicity and were similarly oppressed within the caste system, still they fought the same battle separately. Luckily, this dissention didn’t hinder the social revolution because as “nineteenth-century jurist Peridigao Malheiro described slavery [was] ‘a volcano…a bomb ready to explode with the first spark,’ and slave rebellion was most likely, he noted, during periods when the free population was divided by internal disputes and conflict2.” In this, the minorities held power they might not even have known to exist because the caste system was ready for collapse; it was only a matter of time. Essentially, the caste system in Spanish America was one dictated from birth and based purely upon the color of one’s skin. This meant that no one could ever move above their caste (unless they were a woman and lucky enough to marry a man of lighter skin tone), and that those in the elite levels held ultimate control over society because they were granted certain inalienable assets and power. In perhaps the most poignant definition of the inherent impact the caste system held over those in the lower castes, Andrew cites a satirical poem from a newspaper in Rio de Janeiro “about a planter’s efforts to hire newly freed libertos to work on his plantation3.” In the poem, “the writer leaves no doubt of the damage done to these former slaves by slavery: the liberto’s crippled condition, his shortness of breath4,” and finally, his refusal to be defined by the color of his skin when being directly referred to as ‘black.’ In comparison, in an excerpt from John Lynch’s The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826 entitled “Revolution in the Rio de la Plata,” Lynch highlights that, pressed by economic expansion and cracks within the current aristocratic mores, revolutionaries made decisive militant advances and found leadership under Pedro Domingo Murillo and Jose Antonio Medina. The minorities created an official announcement that “now [was] the time to organize a new system of government, founded upon the interests of our country which is ...
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